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Monday, January 27, 2014

Brazillian Funeral

Once again, another great week! Oh my gosh do I love missionary work!

So, first off, Fabio didn´t get baptized. That was a little sad, but not the worst situation ever. He has been having problems with his ex wife and he wants to sort out all these problems before he gets baptized. So, we´re going to shoot for this week. Keep praying for him! He really is an amazing guy. This past Sunday, he played the violin in sacrament meeting. It was the best, because all the members came up to him after and congratulated him. I swear, he knows our ward better than we do. It´s always hot here.


Also this past Sunday, I went to my first Brazilian funeral. The patriarch of estaca piracicaba is in our ward and his mother-in-law died. So, he asked me and Fabio to play the violin at the funeral. It was so cool in a sad sort of way. They use legit coffins here (like the kind vampires use) and they surround the body with flowers. It was really pretty. 

I loved playing the violin with Fabio. We played "God be with you til we meet again", "How great thou art", and "Nearer my god to thee". It was very spiritual and everybody was crying, including Fabio. We reminded him about the Plan of Salvation and how death isn´t the end. He got a little happier after that :) I am so grateful for the plan of salvation.

I am doing fantastic, seriously. I honestly love being a missionary. It is the best. It is also a little weird because I forget all the time about my life before my mission. I´ve started to call this effect the missionary veil. And let me tell you, it´s super thick. I don´t really get homesick and it´s actually super easy being without music and technology. I love it :)

Portuguese is great! Also this week, my teaching skills in Portuguese improved. I took all of the books I have in English and I locked them in my suitcases. I can´t believe how helpful this has been. I should have done this since week one. Oh well. Now, Sister Lopes and I teach together about 30-50 percent. The other 10 percent is Sister Scott. She is coming along really well with Portuguese :) I love it! Teaching and asking questions in another language is so cool. 

Other than that, this week was pretty chill. IT´s still super hot here, but now it rains every now and then. I can always tell when it´s about to rain because it gets extremely hot for like a day and then dumps rain. It´s pretty impressive. February is the hottest and also has the most rain, so I´m looking forward to that, yay. I don´t mind it too much during the day, but the night is awful. But, I love Brasil :)


Sorry this letter is so short. Have a great week and enjoy the cold for me :)

Love, Sister Whitney


Monday, January 20, 2014


January 20, 2014 from Lauren

I need to find another way to start my emails because ever week is so dang great. It gets a little boring if I always start with "Another great week". But it seriously is true :)
Something that really stuck in my mind this week was a part I read in True to the Faith. There is a chapter in Preach my Gospel call "Christ like attributes". I´ve been trying to develop these attributes more in my life and one that I have been focusing on is hope. Well, I was reading in True to the Faith, under the topic of hope, and I really liked how they described hope. It said something along the lines of this: 
In everyday life we tend to think of hope as a weak word and as something that isn´t likely to happen. For example, I hope that I find a million dollars. That´s not very likely to happen. But, in the language of the gospel, hope is a word with meaning and strength. Hope is pretty much inseparable with our faith. And when we build our hope and faith on Christ, it can´t be destroyed. A perfect description of faith is found in the scriptures, in Éter 12:6 "Faith is the thing hoped for, but not seen." 
I have loved learning about hope and faith because it is central to missionary work. I definitely need to develop more hope because sometimes I come off a little pessimistic. But this week I made the goal to have hope and to be more optimistic. And I really need to be because... We are having a baptism!!!!
I can´t remember if I told you the whole story of Fabio, but I´m going to tell it again because it´s great!

(She did tell us about Fabio and Elena used her story in a talk yesterday in church. Here is an excerpt from her talk explaining what she told us and then Lauren's update follows.

When we talked to her over Christmas, she told us a story of her adventure in the favela. For those of you who don't know, a favela is a slum. Most of them are pretty much run by drug lords and the people live in tin shacks with dirt floors and a satellite dish hanging from the roof. It's kind of a scary place. Well one of the members asked her to come to family home evening and bring her violin. She has had to kinda retrain her brain and fingers to play the violin since she plays the viola, but anyway, they said yes and were on their way to the favela.
As they entered this run-down area, a man came up to them and asked what was in the violin case. He asked her if he could play her violin. She let him and said that he was just ok. But then he took out a cello from his house and they played Christmas music together completely spontaneously for about 20 minutes. Other people heard it and I imagine it was a fairly special moment there in the ghetto of Piracicaba 6000 miles away from home in 100 degree  heat with 95% humidity at Christmas. When they finished he asked her why they were there and she told him because they were going to share a message about Christ with a family that lived there. He asked if he could come with them. They were so excited and then the next Sunday, he came to investigate more of the gospel message.)

Back to Lauren's letter:
We met Fabio in the Favela one day because I was carrying around a violin for FHE. We were talking with some other investigators outside and he walked up to me and asked if he could see the violin. I said sure and that was the beginning of our teaching experience with him. For a couple times after that, I would bring the violin to our lessons with him and we would play hymns for 30 mins. and then share a lesson with him. It was really fun. 

Well, over the past few weeks we´ve gotten to know him better. He belonged to another church here and was really active in it. A few years ago he got married and since then has kind of fallen away from his faith. Even worse, his wife started cheating on him so he divorced her. Well, in his old church, divorce is a sin and because he is divorced, he couldn´t participate in any activities, like play the violin in church. He´s been super sad about this, but lucky for him, divorce is not a sin and he can play wherever he wants. Last week he played the violin in an FHE (btw, we were not there because we were at another FHE. He went by himself! So great!) and then bore his testimony about the church! He is so amazing! I credit our entire experience with Fabio to my mom. If she had not put all of us in viola lessons, I wouldn´t know how to play, and as a result I never would have met Fabio. Thanks Mom!!! You´re a great missionary!!!
So this week, keep Fabio in your prayers. We still have to teach him a few things and he still has questions, so your prayers would really help.
I love you all. Thank you so much for the support! The church is so dang true!
Sister Whitney

P.S. Practice when your mom tells you to :) 

Ghetto costco. We bought 50 hot dog for $5.

Street Youths! Sister Jennifer
                                                         Scott and Sister Lauren Whitney

More street youths: Sister Lopes and Sister Whitney

Thanks for the cookie mix Aunt Bec! Haven't seen Grams package yet...

Cookies are different here but still yummy. I shared some of these with David for his birthday.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Home sweet home

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This is our front, and only, yard. We live behind some members and have neighbors on every side. I feel safe:)

Give Said the Little Stream

(So this weeks entry starts out with a portion of a letter that I sent to Lauren talking about how she handles hard things on her mission.)

 I wanted to let you know that I KNOW you have had crappy hard things that you have gone though and I am proud of how you have handled them. I know you don't tell us about them, but I have always known that this isn't easy for you. I pray for you to have the skills and tools necessary to not just move forward, but to triumph and kick A! Lauren, you are not just a good missionary, but an extraordinary one because of your work ethic and desire to move forward according to the Lords plan.

Lauren:And yes, crappy things happen here, but they really don´t affect me because I love it. It´s my only time to be in Brasil on a mission and I´m going to enjoy the good stuff as well as the bad stuff:) Missions are the best!

This week was fabulus! 

We worked so hard this week and we saw many blessing from it. First off, during fast sunday, I prayed and fasted that we would find more people to teach. Well, walking in the hot sun of Brasil without water totally paid off. We have 12 new investigators! 12! I seriously can´t believe it and I am so excited to teach them more about the gospel. It is the best thing ever!

Out of our new teaching pool, I really really like this one family. Luciana, Rogerio, Camile,and Maria. Our first lesson with them was great. Luciana and Rogerio aren´t married (that´s normal in Brasil), but when we started talking about baptism Rogerio said that he knows he needs to get married before he can be baptized. We didn´t even say anything about marriage and he already knew he needs to get married. So great!  Plus, he always asks for more scriptures or pamphlets to read. They are an awesome family and I know the Lord has prepared them to receive the gospel in their lives:)

Our other investigators are doing well. We have some flakey ones, but that´s ok. And for some reason we have a ton of people with word of wisdom problems. To better understand how to overcome an addiction, I dicided to stop biting my nails. Oh my gosh is it hard! I never even realized that I had a problem until I tried to quit gnawin on my nails. It was just something I did without thinking. I also noticed that when we´re in a hurry, we´re late, or I´m stressed out are the times when I more want to bite my nails. So I´ve tried to stay calm and whenever I want to bite my nails I sing "give said the little stream". I´m not sure why I chose that song, but there it is. So far I´ve gone 2 days without biting my nails. I´m not 100% sure how I´m going to turn this experience into help for our investigators, but I think that it is a good thing to try. 

Another great part of this week was that David, our recent convert, received the Aaronic Priesthood. When the Bishop gave David a blessing and conferred the priesthood, I felt the Spirit so strongly and you could tell that there was a special power in the room. I am so grateful for the Priesthood. When you think about it, if we didn´t have the preisthood, we wouldn´t have anything. Baptism would be like taking a bath, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost would be just a bunch of guys touching somebody´s head, and the gift of eternal families wouldn´t exist. I am sooo grateful for the priesthood and the blessings that I have received in my life because of it:)

Well, I hope that you all have a great week. And if you are trying to overcome and addiction, like bitting your nails, I hope you make it. Sing "give said the little stream" and then it will be better:) Also pray, haha:)

Love, Sister Whitney

Monday, January 6, 2014

Feliz ano novo

This week was fantastic!

First off, whoever is praying that I get the gift of tongues thank you so much! I got it:) This week was a leap in my português skills. Now, I understand everything that Sister Lopes says to me and about 80% of what everyone else is talking about. IT is so much more fun being in Brasil, knowing I can talk with people now. OH MY GOSH DO I LOVE IT!!!!!!! I am 100% certain that it is all because of your prayers and reading the Book of Mormon in português. Wow, who would know that the Book of Mormon not only contains the fullness of the gospel, but is also an effective language tool. Two for the price of one. Woot!

Second, New years was really fun! We had lunch with my favorite member, Eliana. She is so dang funny and it was a complete blast having almoço with her. Also, the food was incredible. I now have an addiction to brasilian barbeque. Holy Cow is it good. 

This week was also great because we now have a new companion! It was transfers last week and a new batch of missionaries showed up. We are in a trio now because there is an odd number of sisters in the mission now. So, Sister Lopes is training another americana, Sister Scott, and I am helping. It was an interesting experience being with all the trainers as they got their tranees. I can´t believe it´s just been one transfer for me here. My português is lightyears better than it was and it made me so grateful for all the work I´ve done to get to where I am now. It also gave me the confidance to speak more. Up until that point, I had the attitude that I didn´t really know portugues. But after seeing my progress, I now have the confidance to speak way more. It is so great! Also, Sister Padilla and Elder Nixon (from my MTC district) were there. It was great to talk with them and hear of their experiences in the States.   

Sister Scott is great and we´re already pretty good friends. She´s from Tenasse ( I honestly don´t know how to spell that state. What a struggle) and is straight from the MTC in provo. I am so grateful for my time in Californa. IT was such a blessing already knowing how to teach the lessons in English and then learning them in Portugues. But, it´s been fun helping Sister Scott learn the material. It´s a good review for me too:) I already love her a ton:)

Nothing extremely spiritual happened this week (everyday has spiritual things so it´s hard to choose one to share). Church was really great. We had a boatload of investigators there, including the guy I played the violin with in the Favela. He loves music and came to church, on his own, to see how we do music. He loved it and I have a feeling that he might be our next baptism:) We´ll see:) 

Anyway, I´m sorry that this week is so short. If you have any questions or want to know something about missionary life, brasil, or whatever, let me know:) I love you all and thanks again for the prayers:)

Sister Whitney
Janeiro had the most rain and it´s the hottest month. yay... IT seriously rained like a foot that day.

                                   I finally caught a lizard. I named him Ben and then set him free:)

                                                                      Favela adventures

                                                           Me and Sister Scott:) My sister:)

                 Thanks for telling Eliana we needed a shower curtain! Our house is so beautiful now:)